Among the Cossacks and pro-Russian groups in Ukraine, there are proud Ukrainians that do not support Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea. One such group is the women behind the “Don’t give it to a Russian” movement. Outside a general boycott of Russian consumer goods, the organization is encouraging women to deny sex to Russian men. Nothing quite hurts a soldier’s morale like an embargo on their genitals.
“This initiative was founded by a group of several Ukrainian journalists and social activists who think that people around the world do not fully understand what Russians solders are really doing in Crimea,” Katerina Venzhik, a founder of the movement, told VICE News.
Venzhik believes the media have presented a skewed view of the situation in Crimea. This is likely true in Russia, at least, where Putin has been accused of censoring coverage or making significant efforts to spin stories in his favor.
We definitely wanted to make it clear that Ukrainian women prefer Ukrainian men!
The group is making T-shirts featuring the international sign language for vagina and the words “Don’t give it to a Russian.” Their Facebook group now has about 1,000 members, and they’re selling shirts there as well as in person. The money raised will go to the Ukrainian army. “We definitely wanted to make it clear that Ukrainian women prefer Ukrainian men! In addition, the organizers plan to continue releasing patriotic shirts,” Venzhik said.
The movement garnered more attention when a photo of Valeriya Novodvorskaya, an outspoken liberal Russian politician and Soviet dissident, wearing the shirt was tweeted by Russian MP Robert Shlegel. The image was photoshopped, but it created enough conversation about the movement to give it some foundation — and lots of attention.
A model poses in the Don’t Give it to a Russian T-shirt.
The Russian nationalist website Sputnik & Pogrom described the women in the Ukrainian movement as "prostitutes" on Facebook.
Venzhik has been politically active since before the invasion and has strong opinions about events in Crimea. She believes that Putin is trying to flex his military muscles and recreate the Soviet Union. “But Ukrainians don’t want came back to the USSR,” she said. Venzhik is specifically upset with the Russian military’s “kidnapping, limiting rights of the Tatars, [and] preventing adequate journalistic work.”
Ukrainians are trying to get their voices heard, even as Russian leaders try to silence the opposition. As shown in the VICE News documentary series, not all Ukrainians in Crimea support joining Russia, and their power to oppose the move lessens with every troop Putin sends into the peninsula. Putin can try to silence Ukrainians but Russian men might not be too happy about it.